When all you hold dear is at stake, you can safely place your trust in our Fraud Solicitors.
Being accused of fraud is an extremely stressful experience. The implications can be serious, ranging from reputational damage to a lengthy criminal investigation and trial.
If you have been accused of fraud or any other type of financial crime, please contact us immediately at Ashmans Solicitors. We provide expert legal advice and can help you achieve a favourable outcome.
Speak to us before you attend any police interviews. We can represent you throughout the investigation stage, advising you what –if anything –to say.
For a free initial enquiry, call us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What is fraud?
Fraud is the deliberate use of deceit or dishonesty to cause loss or disadvantage to another person or party. In England and Wales, fraudulent offences are governed by the Fraud Act 2006. The legislation makes it easier for authorities such as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Serious Fraud Office to pursue legal action against those suspected of fraud.
There are three main offences under the Fraud Act 2006:
- Fraud by false representation
- Fraud by failing to disclose information
- Abuse of position
Someone is guilty of fraud by false representation if he dishonestly makes a false representation with the intention of making a gain for himself or causing loss to another. A representation is considered false if it is misleading or untrue, and the person making it knows (or suspects it might be) misleading or untrue. An example of fraud by false representation would be knowingly exaggerating your income on a mortgage application.
Fraud by failing to disclose information is slightly different. To be in breach of this offence, someone must dishonestly fail to disclose information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, with the intention of making a gain for himself or a loss to another. An example would be making an insurance claim for an item that has been lost or stolen, when in fact you remain in possession of that item.
Abuse of position is when someone occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard the financial interests of another person, but dishonestly abuses that position to make again for himself or cause a loss to another. An example would be an employee who in charge of the company’s accounts. If this person engineers the system to make payments into their own personal bank account, this would amount to an abuse of position.
The legislation also makes it illegal to make, supply or be in possession of any articles used for fraudulent activity. This might include fake credit cards or card-reading technology. Furthermore, you cannot participate in a fraudulent business carried on bya sole trader or company, or obtain services dishonestly.
What are the penalties for fraud?
The penalties for fraud depend on whether you are charged with a summary offence or an indictable offence. Summary offences are more minor charges and involve very small-scale fraud. However, the authorities do not take fraud offences lightly and cases typically proceed to the Crown Court.
The maximum penalty for fraud when found guilty:
- On a summary conviction –is 12 months in prison, a fine, or both
- On conviction on indictment –is 10 years in prison, a fine, or both
A fraud conviction will not necessarily lead to the maximum penalty. The judge will consider various factors when deciding a sentence. This includes the accused’s involvement in the fraudulent activity, the extent of the deceit and the monetary value of the gain/loss.
It can also be possible to reduce a sentence by pleading guilty. There is a sliding scale whereby the earlier you plead guilty, the greater the sentence reduction will be. Those who plead guilty at the Magistrates’ Court may see their sentence cut by up to a third. However, this strategy is only suitable in certain cases. If our fraud solicitors believe you stand a reasonable prospect of success, it may be preferable to plead not guilty and defend the charges. We will discuss the best course of action to take in your particular case.
Mitigating factors during fraud sentencing
There are also factors that can persuade the judge to offer a more lenient sentence. These are known as mitigating factors and include:
- Good character
- Genuine remorse
- Co-operation with the authorities
- Being placed under pressure to commit fraud
- Illness or disability
If there are any mitigating factors, our fraud solicitors will highlight these during court proceedings.
How can our fraud solicitors help?
Our fraud solicitors specialise in the defence of all types of serious fraud and financial crime. We represent clients across England and Wales, and over the years have built a dynamic and forceful reputation.
We maintain a pro-active defence stance in large-scale, highly complex fraud cases that often cross international jurisdictions. The key to our success is being able to match experienced and effective teams with the best legal expertise available. At Ashmans Solicitors, you will always get the best possible defence.
Our fraud solicitors can help with:
Advance fee fraud
Advance fee fraud is when victims are asked to make upfront payments for goods or services that do not later materialise. This covers everything from rental fraud to lottery, prize draw and sweepstake scams. Another example is so-called ‘419’ letters and emails, in which someone is asked to pay a fee to move money from one country to another, with the promise of a reward. The name ‘419’ originates from the Nigerian penal code, although these emails and letters may come from anywhere in the world.
Banking fraud includes crimes such as obtaining another person’s bank account, cheque book and card. It also covers offences like making/supplying/using counterfeit cheques, cloning cards, controlling victims’ online accounts and modifying PIN entry devices to obtain private details.
Benefit fraud is when someone claims state benefits to which they are not entitled. This can relate to Disability Living Allowance, housing benefits, child benefits, working tax credits and income support, amongst others. Even small-scale benefit fraud and lead to an investigation and the imposition of penalties. This is a scary situation to be in, especially if you are forced to repay money that you have fraudulently obtained. What to do if you are accused of benefit fraud.
Charity fraud is the unlawful appropriation of funds obtained through charitable donations. This might happen if funds are raised for a charity that does not actually exist, or if funds are raised for a legitimate charity but are not used for their intended purpose. Charity fraud cases often attract significant media attention. This can result in serious reputational damage.
Counterfeiting is the activity of producing fake items to be sold or presented as genuine. These items can be money, cheque books, passports and other documents, electrical goods, designer goods, artwork and memorabilia, to name but a few. Counterfeit goods require a degree of skill to create. This sets the offence apart from forgery. These cases are typically brought by Trading Standards, the Crown Prosecution Service or Revenue & Customs.
Credit card fraud
Credit card fraud has become an increasingly common allegation since the rise of online shopping. This offence includes using stolen or lost credit cards, cloning credit cards, using stolen identities to obtain credit cards and using false merchant sites. Credit card fraud can also be linked to fraud by false representation, whereby credit cards are obtained using false or exaggerated information.
False accounting is when a person or company intentionally falsifies accounts for personal gain, or to make a company appear stronger than it is. The latter may be done in order to secure a business loan or grant, or to increase the share price. Such cases are often made against the director of a company, although may also be made against an employee.
Forgery is the act of making, copying or using a ‘false instrument’ with the intention of deceiving another party. This ‘instrument’ typically includes a fake document or a forged signature. This can be extremely varied in scope, from fake identity documents to forged medical prescriptions and legal contracts. Forgery is closely linked to counterfeiting and a defendant may be accused of both charges.
Fraud by false representation
Fraud by false representation is when someone dishonestly makes a false representation with the intention of making a gain for himself, or causing loss to another. This is one of the primary offences under the Fraud Act 2006. It does not matter whether a gain or loss actually occurred. If the intention was there, the defendant can be found guilty.
Fraudulent investment schemes
Fraudulent investment schemes are when victims are persuaded to invest in a scheme, development or company that either does not exist, or cannot offer the promised return. There are different types of fraudulent investment schemes, such as Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes. Allegations may also relate to worthless share sales, wine investments, land banking and pension liberation schemes.
Identity fraud is when an imposter dishonestly uses another person’s identity for gain, or to cause a loss. Examples include using another person’s identity to secure loans, credit cards, benefits and official documents. Identity fraud can also occur when someone uses a stolen identity to purchase goods, open a bank account or carry out illicit behaviour. To be guilty of this offence, someone must have used a stolen identity in order to access goods or services.
Insider dealing is also known as insider trading. It is when someone trading on the stock market has insider information, giving them an unfair advantage over other traders. This is an extremely complex area of the law and can relate to stocks, shares and company securities. You can also be guilty of insider dealing if you are the one who provided sensitive information to another person.
Insurance fraud is when someone makes a fraudulent insurance claim. This may be a genuine claim, such as a personal injury claim, which is exaggerated. Or, it may involve someone claiming for an item that has not actually been lost or stolen, or has been intentionally destroyed. So-called ‘crash for cash’ claims also fall under the banner of insurance fraud, whereby car accidents are staged in return for personal injury compensation.
Money laundering is when illegally obtained assets are made to appear as though they have been obtained via legitimate means. Money laundering is a generic term that encompasses numerous activities including structuring (also known as smurfing) and bulk cash smuggling. Often, people get caught up in money laundering without realising it. The legal test is that you should have reasonably suspected that you were dealing with the proceeds of crime. If this cannot be established, you cannot be found guilty.
Mortgage fraud is when an applicant obtains a mortgage after providing false information. This can include a false identity, although more commonly mortgage fraud happens when someone exaggerates their income or inflates the true value of their property. This results in a mortgage being approved, even though the application would ordinarily have been declined. Mortgage fraud can range from small-scale lies on a mortgage application to large-scale organised criminal activity. The punishment for mortgage fraud in greater detail.
MTIC-VAT fraud is the theft of Value Added Tax (VAT). ‘MTIC’ stands for ‘missing trader intra-community’. This offence involves the movement of goods between VAT-free jurisdictions in the European Union. This creates a loophole where VAT can be charged on goods which are then taken for personal use, rather than handed over to the government. MTIC fraud is closely linked to carousel fraud. It is very easy for innocent companies to unwittingly be caught up in these schemes.
Online fraud is any kind of fraud that is committed on the internet. The authorities are becoming increasingly intent on clamping down on online fraud, which can range from online banking scams to government agency fraud, as well as phishing scams. In fact, dedicated teams have been set up to target online fraud. These cases typically hinge upon computer-based evidence, adding an extra layer of complexity to proceedings.
Passport fraud is any kind of misuse of a passport. This might be the use of stolen, expired or counterfeit passports. It might also be linked to identity theft, in which a deceased person’s identity is used to obtain a passport. False document may also be used to secure a passport. Passport fraud often arises alongside other criminal charges, such as people trafficking, smuggling and terrorism. If so, our fraud solicitors will work alongside our criminal defence solicitors to acquit you of all charges.
Pension fraud is an offence that usually occurs in one of two ways: either an employer has fraudulently provided pension benefits, or a person’s pension is stolen by way of deceit. In the latter case, this may happen when someone under the age of 55 is encouraged to move their pension to an unregulated scheme. This is known more specifically as pension liberation fraud.
Tax evasion is when an individual or company takes steps to evade the payment of tax. Tax evasion is different to tax avoidance, which is ‘unlawful’ but not technically illegal. Anyone accused of tax evasion will undoubtedly suffer reputational damage. If convicted, an individual or company may also be subject to a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Other fraudulent offences
This list is not exhaustive. If you are facing allegations relating to fraud or financial crimes, please contact our fraud solicitors without delay. We specialise in high-profile cases. Many of these contain a cross-jurisdictional element, and we have acted on behalf of clients with links to Dubai, China, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Holland and many Eastern European countries.
Our fraud solicitors
Our fraud solicitors will start building your defence as soon as you instruct us. We work alongside the country’s leading barristers, as well as nationally recognised defence forensic accountants, computer data analysts and handwriting experts. We will use these experts to your advantage, exploring every avenue for your defence.
Often in complex fraud cases, the prosecution will request a Restraining Order, freezing either your business or personal assets. This can happen even if you have not yet been charged with an offence. In some cases, charges may not be brought for months or even years. This lengthy wait can have a devastating effect on you, your family and your business. Ashmans Solicitors take a proactive stance in such scenarios, working to overturn or vary the order.
We recognise that complex crime involves huge amounts of evidence, technical and forensic data and a multitude of defendants. Our fraud solicitors have the expertise to effectively sort through the evidence in order to prepare a solid defence case.
Confidentiality is of paramount importance to Ashmans Solicitors. We know that rumours can damage business and personal reputations, sometimes leading to catastrophic consequences. That is why we keep a strict confidentiality code at all times.
Fraud cases studies
- Securing a not guilty verdict for the lead defendant in a multi-million-pound duty fraud and money laundering case
- Achieving a suspended sentence for a company director accused of fraud by false representation
- Getting an acquittal in a high-profile mortgage fraud case involving Barclays Private Client International Bank
- Negotiating a favourable outcome for a local councillor accused of fraudulently obtaining social housing
- Successfully defending a Kurdish national accused of defrauding HMRC of duty payable on millions of cigarettes
- Securing a not guilty verdict for a former employee of a charity accused of fraud and money laundering
- Getting an acquittal for a company director accused of conspiracy to cheat HMRC via the abuse of the zero-rated VAT reclaims system for new build properties
- Successfully requesting a stay of proceedings in which a company director was accused of defrauding the Royal Mail Group Limited
- Getting an acquittal for our client accused of conspiracy to defraud to a sum in excess of a million pounds
- Having all charges against our client dropped during a so-called ‘crash for cash’ false insurance injury claim
- Securing a not guilty verdict for a client accused of high-value mortgage fraud, which would otherwise have resulted in a substantial jail term
Speak to our fraud solicitors
If you are concerned that you could be accused of fraud, do not wait to be arrested and interviewed under caution. Take immediate action and contact our fraud solicitors now.
If you are interviewed by the police, ask our fraud solicitors to represent you. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Do not say anything until you have sought our expert legal advice.
Almost all of our clients qualify for state-funded legal aid and we will assist you in arranging this, if appropriate. In certain instances, full legal aid is not always available. In this situation, Ashmans Solicitors can offer a variety of terms in respect of legal fees, including the option of making monthly contributions. Our rates are highly competitive.
Contact our fraud solicitors now
For a free initial enquiry, call us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.